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The following tape recorded program is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. There will be a lot less crime if we put a microphone in every room and tapped every telephone and took every possible precaution against crime. But in so doing we would have eliminated a lot of the other values of life. That was the voice of Telford Taylor chief counsel for the United States at the War Crimes Trials. And Mr. Taylor will be heard on the case of the California bookie. The fourth program in this series of authoritative discussions and authentic dramatizations of High Court cases in which youre right. This as the
court case in which our rights are. Your rights are run by the University of Minnesota in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters and the University of Minnesota Law School. On today's program you will hear the opinions of legal authorities as recorded in New York and Washington D.C. But first to set the stage for the true authenticated case of the California bookie. Here is one of the consultant commentators for your rights are on trial professor of law at Columbia University. Mr. Mann bad policy it is one thing to say that the government and constitution of the United States guarantees you certain rights such as your right not to be seized without a warrant or your right not to have your home broken into by the police
is another thing to say that these rights of yours will be respected and enforced rights on paper and rights in reality are often conflicting not because some villain wants to deny you your rights but as difficult as this may be to believe because you and other good American citizens particularly the police understandably want to see the laws enforced and society protected for every tyrant who would deprive you of your rights. There are maybe a thousand good citizens who would willingly trade a dozen abstract freedoms for one solid conviction. Nowhere is this conflict between good people in their desire for justice and rights more apparent than with the choice of accepting or rejecting unconstitutionally obtained evidence to convict the obviously guilty should evidence obtained by improper police methods be used against the accused at all. In a paper I wrote for the Stanford Law Review in 1054 I noted.
Whether rules which prevent the prosecution from using evidence in court effectively deter police lawlessness is one of the most enduring controversies about law. The controversy is fed by many opinions and few facts. If we do not see a lot of court evidence that has been obtained illegally what can we do to protect our individual rights to see that constitutional protections are not kicked around simply because it may be easier to convict someone that way. The best way to understand this problem is through an example. Our test case for today the people vs. command is still being debated in law schools lawyers offices and courts throughout the country. Certain facts however are accepted by all points of view. In this controversial case the police methods were freely admitted at the Los Angeles trials of Charles age 10 and 15 others charged with conspiring to engage in horse race bookmaking
and related offenses. Now Officer it's not to be denied that the conversations of the defendants that you and the other police officers overheard may be damaging. Average would you first tell the court. How you came to overhear these conversations. We entered the defendant's house through the side window of the first floor I see. I directed the officers to place a listening device under a chest of drawers. Another officer made recordings of the conversations that came over wires from the listening device to receiving equipment installed in a nearby garage. You see now what's all this your own idea. I had received permission for the installations from the chief of police. Can you testify that these gambling slips out always that you picked up on the defendant's home.
May I see a few. Yes just a moment. There you are. Yeah. Two of the police officers and I picked these up. I would you tell me how did you get introduced to the particular place. I forced entry through the front door. I kicked it open with my foot. You did WHAT. I just walked up and kicked the door in. And you found these gambling slips in the room. No we we had a look around. Did you have a search warrant. No. Now OFFICER Did you also gather your evidence by kicking the door in the door wouldn't give but you try. We try to knock it down yes or what did you do then. We broke a window I I believe it was west of the front door. And you went through the window. Yes or. You have heard some of the actual statements made by police officers in the trial of
Charles and 15 other defendants were found guilty and sentenced to fine and imprisonment. But this is hardly the end of our story. Why the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads the right of the people to be secure in their persons houses papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched and the person or things to be see. Charles Kane appealed his case to the Supreme Court of California at the trial his lawyers contended that all of the evidence against can should be excluded because it was obtained in violation of provisions of the United States and California constitutions. This rule is what is known
as the exclusionary evidence rule. That evidence obtained by unconstitutional or improper police methods should not be allowed in court. For years California had operated on a contrary principle that evidence should be used even though illegally S.. This was set forth by the Supreme Court of California in the case of people versus Mahan in one thousand twenty two. We are not prepared to impose upon the courts of this state the duty and the burden of injecting into a criminal prosecution the collateral investigation of every objection that may be raised as to the source from which in the manner in which evidence in the hands of public prosecutors has been obtained. What do you think the evidence against cando obtained by illegal search and seizure did establish his guilt. She had an obviously guilty man go free simply because the evidence against him was not obtained according to the rules. What's to prevent the police from further illegal searches and
seizures. Should the officers themselves be fined and punished along with the defendant. Or should all go free. Obviously there is more at stake here than the conviction of one bookie. Compare your view with the official decision of the Supreme Court of California in the case of people vs. the majority opinion here was written by Justice Roger J trainer on April 27 1955 without fear of criminal punishment or other discipline. The enforcement officers sworn to support the Constitution of the United States on the Constitution of California. Frankly admit that deliberate flagrant acts in violation of both constitutions and the laws enacted there under it is clearly apparent from their testimony that they casually regard such acts as nothing more than the performance of their ordinary duties for which the city employs them.
Both the United States Constitution and the California constitution make it emphatically clear that important as law enforcement may be. It is more important that the right of privacy guaranteed by constitutional provisions be respected. Since in no case shall the right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures be violated. The contention that on reasonable searches and seizures are justified by the necessity of bringing criminals to justice cannot be accepted. It was rejected when the constitutional provisions were adopted and the choice was made that oh the people are guilty and innocent should be secure from unreasonable police intrusions even though some criminals should escape. Nor over the constitutional provisions make no distinction between the guilty and the innocent. And it would be manifestly impossible to protect the rights of the innocent. If the police were permitted to justify on reasonable searches and seizures on the ground that
they assume their victims were criminals. The constitutional provisions themselves do not expressly state whether evidence obtained in violation thereof is admissible in criminal actions. Neither Congress nor the legislature has given an answer. And the courts of the country. I divided on the question in accordance with the traditional common law rule. The courts of the majority of the states admit improperly obtained evidence and heretofore the courts of this state have admitted it. The rule admitting such improperly obtained evidence has been strongly supported by scholars and judges. Their arguments may be briefly summarized as follows. Evidence obtained by an illegal search and seizure is ordinarily just as true and reliable as evidence lawfully obtained. The court needs all reliable evidence material to the issue before it. The guilt or innocence of the accused and how the evidence is obtained is immaterial to that issue. It should not be
excluded unless strong considerations of public policy demand exclusion of the evidence does not protect the defendant from search and seizure. Since that illegal act has already occurred if he is innocent or if there is ample evidence to convict him without the illegally obtained evidence excluding it gives him no remedy at all. That's the only defendants who benefit by the exclusionary rule. I don't see criminals who could not be convicted without the illegally obtained evidence. Allowing such criminals to escape punishment is not appropriate recompense for the invasion of their constitutional rights. It does not punish the officers who violated the constitutional provisions and it fails to protect society from known criminals who should not be left at large for his crime. The defendant should be punished for his violation of the constitutional provisions. The offending officer should be punished as the rule which would exclude illegally obtained evidence operates however the
defendant's crime and the officer is a violation of the constitutional guarantees. Both go unpunished. Finally there is no convincing evidence that the exclusionary rule tends to prevent on reasonable searches and seizures. Despite the persuasive force of the foregoing arguments we have concluded that evidence obtained in violation of the constitutional guarantees is in admissible. We have been compelled to reach that conclusion because other remedies have completely failed to secure compliance with the constitutional provisions on the part of the police officers with the result the courts under the old rule have been constantly required to participate in and in effect condone lawless activities of law enforcement officers when as in the present case the very purpose of the illegal search and seizure is to get evidence to introduce a trial. The
success of the lawless venture depends entirely on the court lending its aid by allowing the evidence to be introduced if the constitutional guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures. I don't have significance. They must be enforced. And if courts are to discharge their duty to support the state and federal constitutions they must be willing to aid in their enforcement. If those guarantees were being effectively enforced by other means than excluding evidence obtained by their violation a different problem would be presented. Experience has demonstrated however that neither administrative criminal nor civil remedies are effective in suppressing lawless searches and seizures. The innocent suffer with the guilty and we cannot close our eyes to the effect the rule we adopt will have on there was no before the court. Moreover even when it becomes generally known that the police conduct illegal searches and seizures public opinion is not a roused
as it is in the case of other violations of constitutional rights. Granted that adoption of the exclusionary rule will not prevent ALL illegal searches and seizures. It will discourage them. Police officers and prosecuting officials are primarily interested in convicting criminals. Given the exclusionary rule and a choice between securing evidence by legal rather than illegal means officers will be impaled you obey the law themselves. Since not to do so will jeopardize their objectives. Moreover a system that permits the prosecution to trust to but you relate to the use of illegally obtained evidence cannot help but encourage violations of the Constitution at the expense of the lawful means of enforcing the law. It is contended however that the police do not always have a choice of securing evidence by legal means and that in many cases the criminal will escape if they illegally obtained evidence cannot be used against him. This contention is not properly
directed at the exclusionary rule but at the Constitutional provisions themselves it was rejected when those provisions were adopted in such cases had the constitution been obeyed. The criminal code in no event be convicted he does not go free because the constable blundered but because the constitutional provisions prohibit securing evidence against him. There are very provisions contemplate that it is preferable that some criminals go free then the right of privacy of all the people be set it not the meaning of this decision by the California Supreme Court in the cane case was very simple a practice of long standing in California was changed. Evidence obtained by police methods which violated constitutional provisions could no longer be used to convict and accused. The case against Charles age was reversed. The decision was met by a variety of reactions William H Parker the chief of
police for the city of Los Angeles stated the officers who broke the case in my opinion showed an unusual amount of ingenuity industry and intelligence and penetrating and breaking up this organization. The fact that their work should be labeled by this court as criminal and unconstitutional without their even being permitted to defend themselves is in my opinion a serious miscarriage of justice and as damaging a blow as could possibly be struck at a police department which more than any other in this country is endeavoring to raise the standards of law enforcement personnel. The decision is a terrible blow to law enforcement here and it's conceivably sent law enforcement back 50 years. I am only concerned with the security and welfare of the law abiding element of our people. With these further restrictions being placed upon us what are we going to do. Coakley district attorney of Alameda County California filed a brief in this case which concluded the net result of the exclusionary rule.
Is that the persons will benefit the most in fact almost exclusively either blackmailer the kidnapper or the big time narcotic peddler Rocketeer the dishonest gambler who preys devious ways upon a gullible public. The pandering procurer the entrepreneur of a syndicated prostitution and other types of organized crime such as for example the international conspiracy of communism to destroy the American way of life and the very constitutional rights which the majority opinion seeks to protect. On June 12th 1955 the Oakland California Tribune quoted a Boston judge's saying police critics overlook one very important fact. The police officers job requires immediate action. There is little time in which to reflect and decide. A judge can reserve a case businessmen can suspend judgment. But a
policeman can't wait. He has to act and act fast. He cannot always talk things over with his superiors or associates. What is more he must make a multitude of decisions. Something is always turning up. The fears expressed in this case that forcing the police to be too conscious of constitutional rights will undermine their efficiency and that excluding illegally obtained evidence which will only aid crooks and communists may be very widespread. Robert Rouer in his nationally syndicated column for June twenty six thousand nine hundred fifty six writes and to me with my slim knowledge of the law it has never seemed just to throw out any case on a legal technicality. Until someone can explain it for me differently. I will never admit that what constitutes jurisdiction and legal misprints in the rest of the nonsense has anything to do with whether a man committed a
crime. He either did or he didn't and it doesn't make any actual difference if he was arrested by Snow White in Disney Land when he actually should have been collected by Gary Cooper in Bad Hat Montana. Is a High Court decision backing up the exclusionary rules. A terrible blow to law enforcement is much of the work of the prosecution for the state going for not the producer of this series. Philip Gallo asked these questions of several of the law enforcement officers and lawyers that he transcribed for your rights are on trial. You will hear some of their comments now. First the assistant to the solicitor general Myron easy Frankl as recorded in his office in the Department of Justice building in Washington D.C. Do you feel personally that your means of prosecution and defense are hampered by constitutional protections that certain ones if they were not there would make it easier to do your
job. While I certainly don't have that feeling and I believe I can say that most of the people I've worked with in the federal government similarly have no such feeling. We don't think of these constitutional protections as being designed to hamper prosecution. Rather I suppose the Anders and those who've succeeded him have regarded the constitutional protections as being designed primarily for the ordinary everyday citizen not the occasional criminal who may escape on whipt of justice because he's managed to take advantage of some infringement of some right but the ordinary person who's right to be secure in his dwelling who's right not to be beaten by police to be questioned improperly. And all these other civil rights are important cherished
cornerstone items in our democracy. So I would say that. The rights of the individual far from hampering us as lawyers for the government protect us and all the citizens who are our clients and we have no disposition to minimize them or to view them with hostility. That was Marvin IIf rankle assistant to the solicitor general as recorded in Washington D.C.. Judge Jerome Frank has some definite views on this question. He is the author of courts on trial and a judge in the federal courts as recorded at the Yale Law School in New Haven Connecticut. Judge Frank Professor Hall of Indiana law school remarks on the startling fact that there is hardly a single physical act by the Russian NKVD which American policemen have not
at some time perpetrated. The important difference is that with us it is always illegal in secret. That difference is basic. It means that we have a principle of justice on which we can rely to bring such coercion into disrepute and disuse. The principle that police do is when they act on the theory that to discharge their duty they have the authority to dispense with the suspects constitutional probably just because they believe him guilty for it is not the function of the police. In our democracy to determine a man's guilt. Worst of all public cynicism develops concerning the basic ideals expressed in our Constitution for repeated and an RE dressed attacks on the constitutional liberties of the humble will tend to destroy the foundations supporting the constitutional liberties of everyone.
That was Judge Jerome Frank of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the second circuit. Tell her Taylor is a former general in military intelligence and chief counsel for the United States at the war crimes trials in Nuremberg as recorded in his law office in New York City. Here is war hero author and legal authority Telford Taylor commenting on the threat of constitutional and legal provisions to law enforcement. Mr. Taylor the law. God of course is meant to be enforced but the law has also got to be confined to a reasonable area of human life so that doesn't overflow and choke everything else up. Let me put it this way. There are undoubtedly would be a lot less fires if everybody spent all their time trying to prevent fires. But in the process of it we wouldn't get enough to eat. Civilization wouldn't advance in every house go to pot just so there would be a lot less crime if we put a microphone in every room and tapped every telephone and took every possible precaution against crime. But
in so doing we would have depleted and eliminated a lot of the other values of life. Life would cease to be as relaxed or feel as free as it is now and therefore the law if it is to be in proportion to human society as a whole must not only be administered in general fairly and good law enforcement extensive law enforcement. But it must also be confined in terms of life as a whole so it doesn't solve everything else. So admittedly we pay some price in terms of law enforcement when we have these basic guarantees of liberty that was Telford Taylor former general in military intelligence chief counsel for the United States at the War Crimes Trials and author of grand inquest. While our authorities have shown us why our democratic principles cannot condone illegal police activity even if it will catch the guilty. The question still remains what happens when
unconstitutional police activity does occur such as the illegal search. In our case today and these unfair tactics catch the crook what should be done then for our answer once again. Here is one of the consultant commentators for your rights are on trial. Professor of law at Columbia University. Mr Man read posts and anyone who would urge that a court should be forbidden the use of illegally obtained evidence must face one central objection. Is it wise to punish law enforcement officers who may have overstepped the proper bounds of their job by letting an obviously guilty person go. How does that in any way deter or prevent the officer from doing the same thing next time or punishing him for what he has just done. Are there not other ways of seeing to it that our constitutional guarantees are enforced. May we not for example impose payment of damages on the
policeman. Are there not criminal sanctions against him. Will not the internal discipline of the police department take care of the problem. It seems that those who urge the use of the exclusionary rule answer these questions know the remedies of damages the criminal sanctions the internal discipline of police departments are rejected as impractical. They just do not work. The great virtue of the exclusionary evidence rule is that it seems to be the best and most practical way of seeing to it that police are restrained in their law enforcement activities. They like to get convictions. They like to see the completion of their work and if their conduct stands in the way of getting the kind of can the conviction they want they will restrain themselves and conform to Constitutional guarantee. At least this is the faith of those who
support the adoption in the use of the exclusionary evidence rule. You have just heard. The case of the California book. The Forth program and this is your rights are on trial in cooperation with the University of Minnesota Law School under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. This program is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. Do you have a right to have definite charges. This question will be answered next week in the case of the United States vs. online and authoritative discussion and authentic dramatization of a High Court case in which. This.
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Your rights are on trial
Legal search and seizure
Producing Organization
University of Minnesota
KUOM (Radio station : Minneapolis, Minn.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program discusses the parameters of legal search and seizure. The guest speaker is General Telford Taylor, Chief Counsel for the U.S. at the Nuremburg Trials.
Series Description
Discussions and dramatizations of recent high court decisions. Features Professors of Law Monrad Paulsen of Columbia University and Charles Alan Wright of University of Texas.
Broadcast Date
Law Enforcement and Crime
Admissible evidence--United States.
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Commentator: Wright, Charles Alan
Commentator: Paulsen, Monrad G.
Producing Organization: University of Minnesota
Producing Organization: KUOM (Radio station : Minneapolis, Minn.)
Speaker: Taylor, Telford
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-18-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:05
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Chicago: “Your rights are on trial; Legal search and seizure,” 1957-04-28, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 25, 2023,
MLA: “Your rights are on trial; Legal search and seizure.” 1957-04-28. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 25, 2023. <>.
APA: Your rights are on trial; Legal search and seizure. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from